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EU Considers Call for Cease-Fire as Fighting Continues in Southern Lebanon


The European Union has called for an "immediate end to hostilities" followed by a "sustainable cease-fire" between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon. Foreign ministers approved the statement Tuesday at a meeting in Brussels, after Britain and Germany objected to a draft calling for an immediate cease-fire. The statement did not explain the difference between "an immediate end to hostilities" and an "immediate cease-fire."

Meanwhile, Israel thrust into southern Lebanon Tuesday and pounded towns and villages in two other areas, meeting resistance from Hezbollah guerillas.

Prior to Tuesday's meeting in Brussels, several European Union foreign ministers said the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah in southern Lebanon must stop immediately. Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bokoyanis and her Austrian counterpart, Ursula Plassnik, said the bloodshed has carried on far too long.

"Yes, Greece calls for a cease-fire. We need a ceasefire and we need it immediately. If we want to answer to the demands of our European people,” said Ms. Bokoyanis. "We have to work for stopping the bloodshed, dead children do not give security for anybody," added Ms. Plassnik.

Also on the diplomatic front, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Motakki met with Lebanese President Emile Lahoud in Beirut Tuesday, as both countries called for a cease-fire in the hostilities. Mottaki also met with Nabih Berri, the speaker of the Lebanese parliament and the leader of the Shiite Amal movement, allies of Hezbollah.

Despite the calls for a ceasefire, Israeli tanks were seen crossing the Israeli-Lebanese border near the southern Lebanese village of Adisa Tuesday morning. Explosions and smoke were also seen in the Lebanese border village of Mis el Jabal.

Israeli officials say troops will move as far north as the Litani River, 30 kilometers inside Lebanon. Israeli military officials say troops killed at least 20 Hezbollah fighters in the past two days of fighting along the border.

Arabic television stations are quoting Hezbollah sources as saying three Israeli soldiers were killed and many more wounded in clashes near another border village (Aita al-Shaab). The Israeli military has not confirmed the claim.